Japanese GP 2018

Japanese GP driver ratings

Japanese GP

Japanese GP 2018

The Japanese GP was filled with excitement as Lewis Hamilton had a superb race.

 Lewis Hamilton dominated; It was another perfect weekend for the Englishman.

Hamilton was the fastest man in every practice session before masterfully guiding his Mercedes through tricky conditions in qualifying, and never looked in danger in a race he won by 12 seconds.

It’s not just the pace that is impressive, but his consistency. It’s tough to recall Hamilton making a costly mistake in his championship battles with Sebastian Vettel – and he now looks certain to win a fifth crown.
Rating out of ten: 10

Bottas

Japanese GP ratings

Second place, and a first Suzuka podium, but Valtteri Bottas was stuck on the periphery in Japan.

His defeat in qualifying, by the sizeable margin of four tenths, to Hamilton immediately condemned Valtteri to playing the role of dutiful rear gunner, and it was a task he performed efficiently prior to the late lock-up which gave Max Verstappen a fleeting but tempting look at second place.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Max Vestappen

Japanese GP

Max Verstappen has never failed to be on the podium with Red Bull in Japan, but this was surely one of his best Suzuka race days given his car was almost certainly the third quickest.

Verstappen was perhaps fortunate in qualifying as both Ferrari drivers faltered, though the way he kept his cool even after a five-second penalty for running into Raikkonen deserves credit.

Verstappen didn’t give Vettel much room for an overtake but then again, why should he have? No world champion in the making – including a young Vettel 10 years ago – would be so forthcoming when under attack.

Despite the undeserved damage, Verstappen steered his car to a deserved podium. Impressive given his Red Bull, even when boosted by DRS, couldn’t keep up with the Mercedes.
Rating out of ten: 8.5

Daniel Ricciardo

Japanese GP

You had to feel for Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying. A driver famed for his wide grin and positivity let out a howl of frustration after a mechanical failure – awkwardly from the team he is joining next year.

It meant Ricciardo didn’t make it to Q3 for the fifth time in seven sessions – an alarming statistic but not quite as worrying as the fact he hasn’t out-qualified his Red Bull team-mate since the fourth grand prix of the season in Azerbaijan.

Japanese GP – Ricciardo executed a fine race the next day; living up to his billing as the best overtaker in the field by carving his way through the field a-la Verstappen in Sochi to earn himself fourth place.

It’s probably the most he could have hoped for, even though he quite possibly would have had more pace than Verstappen had he started further up the grid.
Rating out of ten: 9

Kimi Raikkonen

Japanese

Japanese GP – Much like in Sochi, Kimi Raikkonen was anonymous at Suzuka. But he finished a respectable fifth and there was mitigation to be found in the damage done to his car by Verstappen when the pair tangled through no fault of Kimi.

“After that it was pretty difficult to drive on,” said Raikkonen. “I had lost a lot of downforce, but there was not much I could do.”
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Sebastian Vettel

 Japanese GP – We make that seven high-profile errors by Sebastian Vettel for the season and his two in Suzuka were arguably the worst and not befitting of an experienced driver with four championships.

In qualifying, Vettel ran wide onto the slippery kerbs and in the race, even after a storming start, he lunged up the inside of Verstappen’s Red Bull when he could have just waited for the two upcoming straights.

That move was all the more perplexing given Verstappen was set to serve a five-second penalty, and that Vettel would have been right behind the Mercedes had he just been more patient.

As written in Monday’s papers, Vettel was “reduced to the type of self-damaging, gung-ho gamble that practically gift-wrapped the world title” for Hamilton. Ouch.
Rating out of ten: 5

Sergio Perez

Japanese GP – Along with crediting Force India’s “brilliant strategy”, Sergio Perez hailed his seventh position in Japan as a “great result”. Given that only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull finished in front of him, it’s little wonder.

Sergio’s haul of points propelled the Mexican into seventh – the ‘best of the rest’ position – in the standings, but with Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg also holding 53, Fernando Alonso 50 and Esteban Ocon 49, it could scarcely be any closer.
Rating out of ten: 8.5

Romain Grosjean

Japanese GP

Japanese GP –  After an undistinguished first half to 2018, Romain Grosjean has driven consistently and speedily since the early summer – Canada was the last occasion when he failed to qualify in the top ten.

Unable to stem the tide of Red Bull and Ferraris recovering position on race day, Grosjean’s only real disappointment was losing out to Perez for seventh.
Rating out of ten: 8

Esteban Ocon

 

Small moments can be very costly in the congested midfield.

So it was for Esteban Ocon at Suzuka when his failure to slow sufficiently for red flags – the stewards were seemingly sympathetic to his explanation that he was confused by beeps on his radio but ultimately felt they had no choice but to issue a penalty – drew a grid drop, wiping out his strong showing in qualifying and relegating him to the 11th on the grid and a hard slog for ninth.
Rating out of ten: 7

Carlos Sainz’s

Japanese

Japanese GP –  It may have only delivered a single point, but Carlos Sainz’s late move past Pierre Gasly for 10th clearly mattered a great deal to Renault.

“Today is an important result for the team,” said boss Cyril Abiteboul, while Sainz concurred: “It was good fun out there today and a very positive race from the team.”

It’s doubtful anybody at Renault would have been saying that had Sainz not rounded the Honda-powered Toro Rosso with three laps remaining.

Sainz, personally, is on a roll – or at least not suffering the savage loss of form plaguing his team-mate.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Pierre Gasly

GP Japanese

Japanese GP – A ‘not quite’ kind of weekend for Pierre Gasly; His new Honda engine was punchier but temperamental, qualifying was a top-10 affair but also featured a rare defeat to his team-mate, and his race almost landed a welcome point…only for Sainz to snatch it with the chequered flag almost in sight.

“We probably didn’t make the best decisions,” Pierre acknowledged afterwards.
Rating out of ten: 7

Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson may claim that he was happy with his race as he climbed eight positions, but this was a sloppy weekend from the Swede.

Not only did he give his Sauber team plenty of extra work with his Q1 error, but he then inexcusably slammed into team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Rating out of ten: 5

Brendon Hartley’s

 After producing the result of the day in qualifying, when he secured a career-high sixth on the grid, Brendon Hartley’s race was decidedly disappointing.

The Kimi went backwards off the line, struggled to get past the Williams, and then became bogged down behind Ericsson’s Sauber.

A drab end to a weekend which promised so much on Saturday night, but at least Hartley will have left Suzuka with an improved hope of keeping his seat for 2018 – albeit without making the convincing case for retention he craved.
Rating out of ten: 6.5

Fernando Alonso

 Japanese GP –  A long and grim day at the office for Fernando Alonso as his McLaren car, stumbled to the also-ran rank of 14th? Think again. “Despite the poor result, I enjoyed driving around this track today.

Even though we were too slow all weekend, in the end it was an enjoyable race.” Less so, the penalty he received for his part in the first-lap tangle with Lance Stroll.

“It wasn’t a big drama, because we were out of the points anyway, but it’s difficult to understand the stewards’ decision as I had nowhere to go but off the track when Lance came across not having seen me.”
Rating out of ten: 6.5

Stoffel Vandoorne

Where is the Stoffel Vandoorne who dominated GP2 and who looked so accomplished on his points-scoring F1 debut? Wherever he has gone, the 2018 version is a pale, almost ponderous imitation.
Rating out of ten: 5

 Sergey Sirotkin

This really is a wretched Williams package, so much so that Sergey Sirotkin insisted “none of us could do any better” than to secure the bottom two finishing positions.

Sirotkin was out-paced in Stroll in qualifying, but only by five one hundredths of a second, and then kept his team-mate behind him in the race.There’s not too much more to say.
Rating out of ten: 6

Lance Stroll

 Lance Stroll described his Japanese GP as “just a really bad one”.

Given how relentlessly bad his and Williams’ season has been, that’s quite the condemnation.Give Lance some credit for his lap to reach Q2 on Saturday – a rare bright spot in a year with far too few glimpses of light.
Rating out of ten: 6

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg’s season is falling off a cliff: the German has scored just one point since his home race at the end of July.

While a failure at the rear of his car triggered his latest race-day demise, there has been no relief in qualifying either. Since Hockenheim, Nico has started from 13th, 18th, 20th, 10th, 12th, and 16th.
Rating out of ten: 5.5

Charles Leclerc

Certainly not the cleanest of weekends for Charles Leclerc; Sauber had a competitive car in Suzuka but Leclerc span in Q2 which meant he started 11th, and then endured a sloppy start to the race.

He was looking good for points after that, executing a fine overtake on Hulkenberg, but sustained heavy damage in the clash with Magnussen before suffering a mechanical failure. “Magnussen is and will always be stupid,” he said on team radio.
Rating out of ten: 6.5

Kevin Magnussen

Haas paid the price for sending Kevin Magnussen too late in a dry-to-wet Q2, but the Dane has to take responsibility for his failings in the race.

His block on Leclerc was dangerous, and effectively ended his own race as he suffered a puncture: poetic justice.
Rating out of ten: N/A

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